Should You Conduct a Tenant Criminal Background Check?

Should You Conduct a Tenant Criminal Background Check?

Over 80 million Americans, or 33% of the population, have a criminal record. The country also has the sixth-highest incarceration rate in the world.

Many of these individuals will later become renters. The words "criminal record" shouldn't scare a landlord away, but they do need to look into what it contains.

Read on for several reasons why you should conduct a tenant criminal background check.

Safety and Security

Tenant screening helps you find the best tenants for your property. The first thing it should always do is determine if they'll be safe to have on your property.

Having a criminal record doesn't always make them dangerous, but it's important to have a record of their actions. It prevents you from letting in ones with a history of violent behavior.

They could harm other tenants. A property with a reputation for being unsafe is also unlikely to get any new applicants.

Protecting Your Investment

A comprehensive criminal check lets you look into the tenant's entire history. It lets you know what they were convicted for, when, and why.

Be careful about accepting tenants with a history of property damage or violent crimes. Letting them in puts you at risk of spending unnecessary time and money on repairs or even losing part of the property entirely.

Reducing Liability

Landlords are responsible for the health and safety of their tenants. You'll be liable for any damage they cause to property or tenants unless you perform a proper tenant criminal background check.

You're also legally required to let your tenant know what you're looking at during the screening process. Tell each applicant about every part of your screening checklist. Tell them that it includes checking their criminal record.

There are also federal laws to contend with. Fair Housing Laws prohibit landlords from denying tenants based on protected categories such as:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Handicap
  • Familial status
  • National origin

You can deny them because of the results of a criminal background check. You can't create a blanket policy where you deny anyone with a record unless you want to be hit with a discrimination lawsuit.

Look at the length and nature of each tenant's crimes individually instead. What did they do and how long ago was it?

Maintaining a Positive Community

Renting a property with multiple units is like joining a dorm in college. It can be a miserable or wonderful experience depending on the community.

As a landlord, you want to make that community as peaceful as possible. It helps you keep current tenants and attract new ones. Screening each applicant protects everyone from ones that would disturb the peace.

Get a Tenant Criminal Background Check

Landlords who don't perform a tenant criminal background check on every applicant open themselves up to a variety of easily avoidable issues. These include tenant or property damage and legal battles.

Blue Ribbon Property Management is the premier property management service in the Brayn and College Station area. Your property is our passion, so get in touch with us to maximize its earning potential today.